The Wedding Day: Ceremony
I am not your average bride. I didn’t grow up dreaming of this day. I tried to start a Pinterest board and managed to pin only six images. Growing up, my mom told me repeatedly, “Make sure you do everything you want to do before you settle down.” The only thing I ever really focused on was my career, although I always knew I wanted a long and lasting love like my parents'. And yet, I had a fairy tale wedding.
I had a fairy tale wedding because the man I married is the most wonderful human I’ve ever met. “Wonderful” is vague when written as such, but he’s truly a being of wonder in every way. Incredibly kind, beyond generous with his spirit and his attention, hilarious, handsome, intelligent and genuinely becomes friends with everyone he meets. He is the fairy tale.
All the gushing aside, when it came to our wedding day, I wanted it to be beautiful, but most of all, I wanted it to feel like us.
Anyone who’s had the privilege and joy to meet Zach knows he’s the most gracious host. He welcomes everyone into his home with open arms, a display of food and a full bar. Throughout our time being together, hosting parties has been a constant. The day needed to feel like everyone could have their best day ever. I like to think it was like that for everyone.
For me, it was my reality. Everyone puts so much pressure on your wedding day insisting it’s going to be “the best day of your life.” I genuinely wondered how it could be so. How could one day—out of all the amazing days with a partner—be the absolute best? Allow me to try to explain.
You wake up and you feel in your bones that this day is distinct. It’s different. There’s a weight to it, but not one that burdens you. One that you want to experience every millisecond of. On this day you have absolute clarity. You know what your purpose is. You know your intentions.
On our wedding day, we awoke next to each other. Now, I know it's not traditional to see each other the morning of the wedding but we did for an hour or so. We want to cherish every second together, especially on this day, so we had our morning routines together.
When we did part ways, I headed to a separate room where hair, makeup and mimosas were happening. I felt extremely calm all morning, largely thanks to being around women whom I love and who love me. I also did my own makeup because the focus of it really calms and centers me. It's nice to feel "normal" for a second on a not-so-normal day.
It wasn't until it was time to put my dress on that I got a little shaky. Once that dress is on, you know it's about to get real. That dress is the dress my mom and I found together, just as we had found prom dresses many years ago. But this dress is THE dress. The one that really matters. For me, I wanted it to stand the test of time and always look elegant, chic and streamlined (with a little bit of a princess-y full skirt, because when else are you going to get to don that?). And not to be horribly cliché, but it's true: when you try on what will become THE dress, you know. My mom and I both knew instantly, and I'm so thankful we forever have that moment.
Initially, I was vehemently against a first look. After taking a closer look at the timeline of the day, though, we decided it was the only way we were going to get specific photos.
Nervously, with my heart pounding out of my chest, I walked up to my groom. We stood back to back and then turned to greet each other. Any nerves or anxiety that existed washed away in that instant. There was my man, looking more handsome than ever. I've always felt at home and at ease whenever I'm physically near Zach, and this time it was no different.
We laughed, we kissed, we took a million pictures. I was thrilled beyond belief this day was here and we could finally start experiencing it together. I wasn't shaky anymore.
Or so I thought.
After we signed our marriage license, it was time. Zach went his way and I went mine. We both prepared, separately, for the ceremony.
I met my dad at our starting point. When planning the wedding, this is really the moment I wanted for my dad and me. Time to stand as the two of us, father and daughter. Forever and always. I wanted to honor our relationship and everything he's done for me, and the complete, full love he has for me, with this walk down the aisle. My dad is the kindest, sweetest, most loving father and although my path hasn't always been traditional, I wanted this moment of tradition for us.
I told him how nervous I was and he said, "Really?! There's no need to be."
Zach's processional song started. His walk with his parents started. Then my brother walked my mom down the aisle. They were followed by our best man and maid of honor. Then our flower girls and ring bearer. Then it was my time.
The first notes of "Halo" started and I gripped my dad's arm. We started our walk, staying in step the whole time. Once we reached the bottom of the aisle, we took a deep breath. As we walked up the aisle, I stared straight ahead at Zach. My handsome angel standing under the hot Palm Springs sun. Waiting, smiling.
I hugged my mom and then my dad. Then I handed my flowers as fast as possible to my forever right-hand woman, best friend, sister, soul mate, Muffin.
Zach and I stood hand in hand throughout the ceremony. I was relieved to be standing before him, staring into the eyes I've memorized. My longtime friend Alex officiated and shared the loveliest words.
Zach and I wrote our own vows, and although we didn't reveal what we were going to say beforehand, we did agree on tone. Still, I wasn't prepared for the hot rush of tears that flooded my eyes as he read. As we moved to my vows, I prayed for a clear, steady voice and not to stumble.
Vows and rings exchanged, announced as husband and wife, we kissed.
The rest of our day was absolute joy and pure fun--the reception went by way too quickly. But during that ceremony, time slowed down. It allowed us to sit in that moment. To soak it in. That day, those vows and the love we cemented will be a huge part of the two of us always.
So no, I didn't have it all planned or pinned to a board for years. I didn't know the first thing about flowers or bridal showers or catering or cakes. I hadn't studied weddings for years or even paid attention to bridal magazines. But my whole life, I did yearn for everlasting, undying, unwavering love. And now I know finding that is exactly what the fairy tale is all about. You, my love, are the fairy tale.
It is written.
All photos are by Scott Sikora Photography.